Centerville schools levy fails

The Centerville City School District’s 6.9-mill additional levy failed by a narrow margin Tuesday, according to final, unofficial results from the Montgomery County Board of Elections.

It was the second straight levy defeat for the district. Voters in November rejected a 5.9-mill operating levy by 160 votes.

It was unclear Tuesday whether the levy will be subject to an automatic recount, which occurred in November.

State law prohibits local boards of election from counting provisional and late-arriving absentee ballots until 10 days after the election. The time allows provisional voters to provide missing information or absentee voters to correct mistakes made on the identification envelope.

“There was a lot of time and effort and dedication by our parents, our supporters and our staff. They will be disappointed,” Superintendent Tom Henderson said as he and other school leaders gathered at the Curriculum Center to watch results come in for the levy, which would have generated $11.48 million annually.

Asked if the district will return to the voters again later this year with another levy, Henderson said, “That will be a conversation we will have to have with the board of education.”

Henderson has said that regardless of the levy results, the latest $2.6 million in budget cuts impacting various programs won’t be restored. The board approved those cuts in January, while also increasing school fees and “pay to participate” fees by 50 percent.

Henderson had said before the election the added mill was needed even though the district has reduced expenses, cut positions and raised student fees since the November defeat.

Rated “Excellent with Distinction” this year on the state report card, the district of more than 8,000 students has spent more than one-third of its reserves, which stood at $19.6 million at the end of the 2011-12 school year.

It has projected a spending increase from $83.8 million in 2012 to $92.1 million in 2015, although the board may consider a revision in late May.

The reductions are in addition to the $12 million the district has cut in spending since 2009, including the elimination of 63 full-time staff positions and freezing base pay for all staff.

Henderson said there is always concern when voters are asked to approve multiple ballot issues in an election.

“That was one thing that worried us,” he said.

Centerville and Washington Twp. residents also voted Tuesday on two non-school property tax issues. Issue 10 was a five-year, 4.65-mill levy for fire and emergency services to replace an expiring 3-mill levy. Issue 11 was a five-year, .7-mill replacement levy for recreation programs and facilities that include the Washington Twp. Recreation Center, Rec West and Town Hall Theatre. Both of those issues passed.

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